April 14th, 2008
09:07 PM ET

Polygamy Wives: Breaking their Silence

I just witnessed an extraordinary moment. 

A busload of women from the FLDS polygamist compound just arrived at the ranch gate.

A few of them seemed very upset.  They told me that state officials forced them to leave their children at the shelter and go home.
We suspected this was coming because just yesterday a judge had their cellphones confiscated, cutting off communication with men at the ranch.

Talking with the women as they left the bus, I was surprised by their eagerness to tell their story to me, since FLDS have usually refused to speak to outsiders.

I asked about the allegations of child abuse.  The women said all marriages are between conscenting partners.  Some said they had no knowledge of unaged girls getting married to adult men.

One woman says the report of sexual and physical abuse from a woman named Sarah is a hoax.  They told me it was a fictitious story and the girl does not exist.

We're continuing to work the story.

-David Mattingly, 360° CorrespondentComments to the 360° blog are moderated. What does that mean?


Filed under: David Mattingly • Polygamy
soundoff (23 Responses)

    The LDS church in Salt Lake City must take much of the responsibility for the widespread practice of polygamy throughout the West. LDS founder Joseph Smith, Jr. , and Brigham Young taught that the practice of polygamy was "essential for salvation." The LDS church has never changed, altered or removed that doctrine from their set of beliefs. All they have said is that the LDS church no longer practices it. The church never did practice it; it is the members that did and many still do even within the LDS church.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Cyn Slay

    When a child abuse complaint is made, nothing has to be substantiated. The child is first removed then a determination is made. Period.
    As far as the behavior and practices of FLDS, if this pedophelia (call it what it is) were happening on the internet (child porn) they'd ALL be in the Slammer. The fact that it is some cockamammy religion should make NO difference. So many Hollywood types are concerned with children of other countries and the white slave trade and such. Why don't they pay attention to what is under there own nose? Tolerance, My EYE! Time for a hanging party.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  3. Matt

    The most important issue here is that, as Carolyn stated, Kathleen attempted to prevent her from escaping the sect with her children. Meanwhile, Kathleen fought the evidence for the raid, citing the constitutional right for freedom of religion. This hypocrisy is clear evidence of the denial of basic freedoms in the community, aside from whatever abuse may be occurring there.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  4. cocallag

    How does this sect support itself? What do they do for a living? It must have cost millions to build that compound. It doesn't seem like welfare dollars would be enough to pay for all of that.

    April 15, 2008 at 8:49 am |
  5. janice

    "Kathleen" said something about there being over a hundred people being held in a place with only two bathrooms. This is outrageous! It has to be unsanitary. It wouldn't be surprising if the kids get sick. "Kathleen" may have exaggerated by comparing their circumstances to nazi concentration camps, but I can see how conditions could deteriorate into something similar. If the authorities don't have adequate facilities, and they obviously don't, then they should have left the children where they were--just go arrest and detain the suspects, not innocent children. Oh, and when you go arrest the suspects, please don't bring any army tanks.

    April 15, 2008 at 6:41 am |
  6. Eddie

    The phone call from this alleged victim is looking more and more like a hoax. Cops can track killers using their cellphones so if there was a call for help with the current technology available, they should be able to find one "victim" on the compound right?

    Also, does it make sense that David Barlow would come down from Arizona to beat up and abuse the alleged victim around Easter in Texas and then run back up to Arizona to hide out? Something smells really rotten with the Texas authorities! They should have concocted a better story to justify their illegal raid.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:20 am |
  7. candie

    this is to annie kate...my mom who is 83 was married to my dad ,her only husband when she was15. just being older does not make you smart.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  8. candie

    carolyn is a hoax... she makes no sense....if it was so bad why was she dumb enough to agree to it in the first place..Does she really think people will fall for any thing?

    April 14, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  9. Concerned

    I'm very concerned that there are people out there like Grandmother in Oklahoma that feel this was a hoax. There are people who left the sect or were kicked out of the sect who have spoken out that this happens. If you listen to the news reports, there was an informant in the sect or had been in the sect who was in contact with the authorities. Why is the man who lead the group in prison-child endangerment for arranging a marriage for a 14 year old. That can't be a hoax grandma-not a mistake. This is not a natural disaster like Katrina-this is real life and those children need protected. Hats off to the authorities in Texas.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:27 pm |
  10. Natalie

    To Grandmother in Oklahoma.
    When a man marries more than one woman at the same time – it's a crime.
    When a man marries and impregnates an under age girl – it is a crime
    When a man marries and impregnates more than one under age girl – it is a crime
    When you have siblings married to the same man at the same time having his kids – it is sickening
    Do you think FLDS women receive no assistance from the government? They are, after all, single mothers by law. And even if they don't, do you think it is normal for women and children to live in such mind controlling environment?

    April 14, 2008 at 11:27 pm |
  11. Danielle Adams

    And so what if that phone call was a hoax...its about time the state of texas goes in there and does something about it...It has nothing to do with their religion whatsoever....its the whole fact of protecting the children that matters the most...I think the State of Texas is doing exactly what they should have done a long time ago...And what makes everyone think that someone inside the Compound at Eldorado didn't make the phone call and then came up with another name so they would not get into trouble????I just hope that the State does the right thing and does not let them get those kids back......

    April 14, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  12. Jay J

    I really don't believe that fourteen year-old children are being forced to marry 60-odd-year-old guys down there. If that has happened, it's disgusting, but I've never heard any evidence to that effect.

    What I find really disturbing, is the way that the Us officials handled this situation. How on earth could they seperate that many children from their mothers, based on a phone call that they didn't even bother to verify??

    – a Blackmore
    Bountiful, BC

    April 14, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  13. Rita Burleson

    I am concerned with the children's health as some of them have the pocks. Is it mandatory to have all your shots? Were Birth records kept?
    I saw Kathleen speak on 360 and as I watched her eyes it appeared to me she was reading or being prompted [her eyes kept going to the left]. Thank you Rita Ca.

    April 14, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  14. tom

    Wow After listening to those women from the church it seems like theres another side to this story..
    Personally im appauled that the state of texas would go in and confiscate some 400 plus children from there families on just one possibly crank phone call....in these news stories noone ever really says what the actual abuse is It was just in 2005 that Texas changed the legal marrage age from 14 to 16......all the years before that 14 was ok to get married ...Any way it easy to see how the media including cnn has slanted the story on this hole thing....I pray they let the children go back to there motheres ...other wise i think a terrible injustance will have been done...Wheres the commpassion...

    April 14, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  15. M Landolphe D'Aquin-Burglass MD ThD

    Several days ago, on this site, I raised the possibility that the state's raid on this compound might have been based upon a false or even nonexistent complaint from "Sarah." I note tonight that this point also has been raised by some of the women of the group.

    I have served as either physician/psychiatrist, consultant, or expert witness, in fourteen legal cases involving polygamy and religious freedom. In all but two of these, some degree of investigatory and/or prosecutorial misconduct came to light in the course of the proceedings. Hopefully, one or more of the attorneys for the women or children will undertake a thorough investigation of the initial "call for help," including but not limited to establishing what (if any) efforts were made to establish the legitimacy/veracity of the alleged report of the complaining witness, and the existence of an official log or recording, of the incoming call "the authorities."

    At this point, any and all alleged, inferred, or other sensational aspects relating to the sexual and social practices of this religious sect and of polygamist groups in generally, are outside the scope of the relevant questions of the legitimacy and legality of the "search," and the indiscriminate "seizure" of ALL of the group's children.

    This may well evolve into the investigation and prosecution of the "child protection authorities", i.e., the religion police.

    M. Landolphe D'Aquin-Burglass MD ThD

    April 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  16. Lynn in AZ

    Grandmother in Oklahoma, it is beyond someone else's irresponsibility, it is someone else's illegal activities. Under-aged females bearing multiple children before they are 18, fathered by 50-year old men is not o.k., sons being kicked out of their communities and their families as to not pose as competition to the older males, is not o.k. This is child abuse, and yes, the taxpayers bear the burden.

    I'm curious about dollars involved in this welfare and food stamp fraud that occurs at these compounds, I do not recall the exact numbers that were reported recently, but I do recall that the report stated each of the wives beyond the one-legal wife collects both welfare and food stamps for their children. A portion of these tax dollars going to their prophet.

    The act of multiple marriage in this country is illegal, but it exists and the taxpayers are carrying the burden of supporting the families of these men who are taking advantage of these young girls.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  17. MartaK

    In all the footage that has been shown to date of these people....you don't see too many boys over the age of about 10. Haven't seen ONE teen boy. Just lots of girls.

    Do they mostly have girl-children or is there some truth to this "Lost Boys" report?

    April 14, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  18. joe cardinal

    The woman keeps saying she wants her children back, but when asked about the "lost boys" the young boys sent away, she refuses to answer and when asked about young girls forced to marry older men, she refuses to answer. If she witnesses her sons sent away and her daughters forced into marrying, she has NO RIGHT to have her children returned. By silenting allowing this abuse, she approves. Therefore she can't have her children returned

    April 14, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  19. MartaK

    So according to Carolyn Jessup, former FLDS member, that woman that was just on (Kathleen) lied about her daughter with the 10 month old being "18+". They were sister-wives and Jessup says Kathleen's daughter was 16 when she got pregnant and is NOT "18+" as the mother said. THAT IS CHILD SEX ABUSE. Jessup should testify against her.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  20. MartaK

    Wow...these people are CREEPY (and clearly coaching the woman on what to say.)
    Can't believe these women would sacrifice their own kids this way just to protect their dirty secrets.

    April 14, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  21. Andrew Shiffer

    I am watching 360 right now and the women whom Cooper is interviewing is CLEARLY reading from something behind the camera! What on earth are they hiding???

    April 14, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  22. Grandmother in Oklahoma

    The more I hear about this, the more I am convinced that the phone call was a hoax and not made by a l6 year old inside the ranch. I also feel that separating the children from their mothers, dads and siblings will cause more harm than would be if left alone. The man mentioned in the tape had not been in Texas for well over l5 years so the whole accusation is a sham.
    There should have been a better way to determine if any crimes were actually committed. Sometimes law enforcement makes terrible mistake. I remember a fire in Waco where lives were lost because the wrong decisions were made by law enforcement. I call still see the picture in my mind. It was so very sad and senseless.
    Also, every day men and women conceive children whose life costs must be beared by the tax payer. Many of these children are abused or neglected and many don't have any idea who their natural fathers are. Yet, these mothers are rewarded for their irresponsibility, given food, shelter, health care, education costs and other freebies. I remember New Orleans after Katrina. This behavior has been going on for generations and American tax payers have to keep paying taxes for someone else's irresponsibility.

    April 14, 2008 at 9:29 pm |
  23. Annie Kate

    Consenting partners? How can a child under the age of 18 be seen as consenting when all their lives they have been taught to be obedient to their elders? The criteria should be consenting adults – I don't see a 14 year old being able to say no in front of the community to a marriage they expect her to enter into. I'm sorry the mothers have been separated from their children but there is no way I believe a marriage of a older man to a young teenager is between consenting parties.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm |